This purple dress was one of those gems. The bright color, the ease of the material, the flattering wrap style - I knew this dress would be a warm weather staple. And even though it was too big and slightly see through, I saw the potential after a couple of quick fixes. Throw a belt on top and a slip dress underneath and this dress is ready to shine.
Now that I’ve committed to shopping ethically, resale stores - whether they are discount thrift stores or retro vintage shops - have become a staple in my shopping rotation. And since not everyone out there is a veteran thrifter, I’m sharing a few of my tips for a successful thrifting outing:
1. Ignore the sizes. Vintage clothing sizes are drastically different than modern sizes. Recently I found a white silk midi skirt that was labeled 3 sizes up from my usual size. When I tried it on, the fit was perfect. Sizing varies so much depending on the decade or the brand, it never hurts to try on an item with potential. Plus, if you find a great quality item, it's worth having it altered for a better fit.
2. Explore the men’s section. I have found everything from my favorite vintage t-shirts to cozy, oversized sweaters in the men’s section. If you're petite, check out the children's section too. There are some great blazers in the boy's section for the small framed woman. Don't limit yourself to the obvious.
3. In a rush, stick to a color scheme. Oftentimes thrift store items are color coordinated. If you don’t have time to sift through every single item, think about the colors you wear most and stick to those.
4. Just because it’s affordable, doesn’t mean you need it. It’s easy to get caught up in the great prices and over do it. Keep your lifestyle and personal style in mind. Remember, quality over quantity. A helpful tip is to ask yourself, "If it was full price, would I still buy it?" If the answer is "no," you are probably buying it because of the low price, not because you actually need (or want) it.
5. Keep a list. It's helpful to have a list of pieces you are looking for to keep you on track and keep you from ending up with an overflowing closet of items that don't suit you. I keep a list of items I need hanging inside my closet. Whenever I am out shopping, I take the list so that I know what pieces to look for and can distinguish between what I need and those tempting impulse buys.
6. Be open. You have your list of items you are looking for, but don't be afraid to stray for some truly special pieces. With a little digging, you can find some unique finds that may not be on your list, but are too amazing to pass up. Just make sure they are items you will actually wear in your real life. You may find a beautiful pair of vintage stilettos, but if you never actually wear heels, they will just sit in your closet and take up space. When making any purchase, it's important to be realistic about your lifestyle.
7. Use the internet. There are tons of online resources available that allow you to shop from the comfort of your pjs. This is especially helpful when searching for something specific (like an evening gown). You can filter through the inventory by size, color, price, etc. Some of my favorite online resale shops are ThreadUp and Tradsey. And if you want to shop from your phone, check out apps like Poshmark and Depop.
Are you an expert thrifter? What are some tips that you find beneficial when shopping?
dress: vintage from lost and found vintage
shoes: old zara
bag: rent the runway
photos by Laila of Studio 11.11